Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

Spanish Struggles

So as those of you who read this regularly (thanks!) will be aware I've been studying Spanish.   And this is proving to be a challenge in ways that have nothing to do with learning the language.  Lol.   You see, while I've always been pretty useless at other languages, somewhere along the way I became reasonably good at English.   Which means when I try to express myself in Spanish I feel frustratingly stupid due to the lack of vocabulary.   And to add to it, I am very thoroughly on a plateau, which overachiever me does not deal well with.  Who's surprised by this? ;-P
Except I'm not even hanging that far along -- I'm further left. *sigh*
So while teacher/coach Lauren knows and understands about plateaus and how to handle them.  Learner Lauren is less onside with this.  Which means trying all the techniques to improve the situation.  And, well, you can't cross a chasm with two small jumps.  Soooo...   Yup - I'm going to Spanish school in Costa Rica.

Oh common, you're not new here.  Dramatic solutions to simple problems ;).  More vocabulary practice was clearly not the way.  Although, tbh, I'm also doing that.  And writing daily.  And my workbook, and lessons, and apps...  Multi-method small-burst learning all the way.

And the latest method includes trying to watch TV in Spanish on Netflix (pro tip: if you're trying this, set up a new account for your language programs.  Makes life much easier).  With the aid of close captioning (also in Spanish), I'm mostly understanding enough to follow what's going on, which I'm deeming a win.   With no cc, not a chance *sigh* -- which admittedly is a challenge since irl most people don't conveniently have their words written out for them when they speak ;).  Lol but I'm hoping this is a step towards understanding the spoken words.   Also, the level I test at is not yet the level that's supposed to understand TV, so I don't feel too bad ;).   Oh - but as far as tests go, I took a placement test for said Spanish school and actually scored a tiny little bit higher than I expected, so disproportionately pleased at that.

But the worst?!?!   One of the TV characters started speaking Portuguese.  I'm sorry but that's just not fair.  And the CC continued in Spanish w/ just a note about the language, but the audio obviously didn't match.  And sadly the first time, I didn't even catch that they didn't match cause I was so reliant on the text.  Brutal.  At least I later realized it ;). But still.  Sheesh.

Anyways - the TV challenge has made being on the plateau more entertaining.  I'm not really sure how productive it is, but I figure it can't hurt.  Especially for something I'm learning for no reason other than I feel like, so not like it's tragic if it doesn't go quite right ;)

And I am super excited about my immersion week!!!  Wanted to go for two weeks but my bathtub ate most of my travel budget, so I'm down to one.   Not sure that's enough to push me off the plateau (pretty sure a month is the recommended stay), but figure it's worth a try.

Improving the world a tiny bit at a time

So found an interesting way of "giving" today that might intrigue some of you, so thought I'd share.   Jane, who I knew in another lifetime through riding, posted a link to Kiva - which I'd never heard of.

Kiva, it turns out, essentially crowd sources loans for people who otherwise wouldn't have access to them (eg women in developing countries).   Hence the quotes around giving, since technically you get it back.  Reading the literature and Jane's testimonial, repayment rates are apparently pretty high.  But I'm looking at it as a donation that can be repurposed.  So when (I'm trying to be positive here!) it's repaid, I'll re-loan it back out to whoever needs it next.   And if it doesn't, well then I gave $25 to somebody who needed it a whole lot more than I do.

The amount loaned, of course, is entirely flexible -- but the base asking price seems to be $25 so I went with that.  The people say what it will be used for, and there are in most cases institutions doing due diligence on them (you can see who's involved in the ask).

Requests are broken into categories:  education, agriculture, women, arts, etc etc and you can read through and pick what you want to contribute to (it also shows the total ask of the loan and how much has been sourced).

So I started with the "women" category, because I'm very sensitive to the fact that while we *still* have equality challenges here, they are significantly worse in other parts of the world.   And there were a couple I could see myself supporting, but so many were "for my son" or "for my husband" which, to me, is playing the system.

So then I tried the education category, because similarly, women's education is something I care about.  But again there was a ton of "for my son", "for my husband", etc etc.   Never "for my daughter".   Which I found not surprising, but disheartening.   But then I found a "for my sister" that was a man who it seems had to drop out of school to help his father support the family, but was trying to get enough money to keep his sister in school.  It is a verified one (although of course I only know so much about the verifier, but better than nothing).  So I contributed to that one, and we'll see how it goes.

Did roll my eyes though, when I was poking around the site and it shows what you've contributed in various charts (location, category, etc) -- under gender, it shows 100% male.  Because, of course, it was a man who was seeking the loan, even though the beneficiary is a woman (or I think actually a girl -- it listed primary/high school level).  Lol ah well - if my $25 can help a girl in Lebanon get an education, I'm all for it.  And since it is a loan (interest free), when it comes back, it can go help someone else after.

But yeah - I do like that it's a loan rather than straight charity and encouraging self-sufficiency and development.   There were some asks that I would definitely question but a lot were for money to buy a second cow, or a sewing machine to improve a seamstresses output, or farming equipment...   That kind of thing that you can see how it would legitimately pay itself back and improve the recipient's life at least a tiny bit...

Reading through the asks both put first world problems firmly in their place, while somehow simultaneously highlighting the similarities that cross distance, religion, race, and gender.  People wanting to grow their business and needing seed funding, people trying to afford a better life for their kids, people who need specialized equipment to help with a disability, all very relatable.  Even if we have only the vaguest understanding of what their lives are really like.

If you've used it before, or give it a try, let me know how it goes!

Happy anniversary to us :)

Feeling spoiled :)
So our anniversary was comparatively quiet this year.   Chris has just started a new job (woohoo!  No more nights!) which meant we couldn't go away...  And we did the tacky tourist thing last year.  Doing it again would be, well, tacky ;-P.
Candlelight dinner, with more flowers :)
We had a reasonably uneventful day followed by a super nice dinner at Cucci.   Not in our usual budget for sure, but was a good celebration to us :).   Chris also made me smile with flowers and a bear -- those who know me may be aware of how much I adore stuffed toys.   It's slightly unreasonable, but moderately harmless ;).  And flowers are always a win.  Little things in life.

AND a little anniversary bear.
 Not our most exotic anniversary (albeit the first to involve a BEAR!!!), but still really lovely.   Next year - Costa Rica round two!

And the award for best animal trainer goes to...

So last night I realized just how much my dogs rule the house.   Everybody went to bed - same routine as normal...  Dogs go out, come back in, go on their beds, and get their bedtime treat.  Then I shouldn't hear from them till I feel like getting up in the am.

Then I hear "click click click click" over and over again as Tucker w/ his crazy long nails runs back and forth on the hardwood in front of the bedroom door.   Bedtime is his favourite time of day, so not normal for him to be running around.  But I had a pretty good guess as to the Very Serious Problem stressing poor Tucker out...

You see - his favourite blanket was not with his favourite bed.   His favourite blanket was with A bed, but in the library not the living room.  And the living room bed also had A blanket, but not the *right* one.  Tucker the Toddler needs the right blanket in the right bed.

And since I did not want to listen to him click all night (whilst my husband snored away next to me), I solved this problem for him.  Toddler win.   And it did solve the problem - no more clicking.

Fast forward an hour or two and I hear loud music playing.  Figure the people across the street are home (they often have very loud music playing in their truck, but usually only for about 30 seconds). Music turns off and I go back to sleep.   But then it come back.  Frig.  And then I realize it is decidedly both A -- too loud even for them, and B -- the wrong style of music.

Right -- Sasha the teenager was on the couch, had turned on the TV, and was blaring Netflix previews *sigh*.   Lol - to be fair, she was probably just as pleased I was turning it off as she too was trying to sleep.  I sincerely doubt she realized that rolling over on the remote was connected to the unplanned light and noise.

But yes, twice last night I had to get up to address completely non-emergency issues for my dogs.

I am a well trained sucker.


Lol sometimes there are no words....   But I'm still going to try to describe -- with words ;)

So Chris and I had pizza-free January.  We were discussing continuing this trend into Feb (cause admittedly we were eating a *little* more pizza than perhaps would make Canada's new food guide ;) -- but agreed we needed a cheat day in-between.

Sweet.  Wonderful, greasy, deep-dish Dominos ordered.   And since I had some errands to run in that area, even ordered it for pickup instead of delivery.

Errands meant that it should definitely be ready by the time I got there.   There was a bit of a line, so by the time I got to the front I figured I'd be able to get my food and go.

But alas, was not to be...

So customer service person looks it up, goes to the back to check, and tells me "it's just coming out of the oven; will just be a couple minutes."

Okay no problem, I get being a couple mins late on a busy day.  I go to pay, "oh no - you just pay when the pizza comes out."

"But..."  But no, despite complete lack of logic, I'm directed to wait.   Okay, so be it.

A couple other people come in and pick up their orders.  Nobody around.  CSR is puttering around doing other things.   Person who ordered right before me (actually ordered, not a pick up) gets their order.  Ummm what?

So I flag the guy down -- could I at least pay for it, so when it's ready I can just go?

He asks the name again and goes back to look.  Not ready.  Brings it up on the computer and...

"... we don't have the order."

I'm sorry, what?  "You told me it was coming out of the oven?"

"It doesn't look like the order is here."

So, why didn't you tell me that the first time I stood here?

"Well it's busy."   Wtf?!?!  

So I can understand busy.  I completely understand tech failures.  Had he just told me, the first time, that they didn't have the order I could've re-placed the order and moved on with life.  But no, instead somehow in his little brain he felt that lying to me was the solution?   I still can't get my head around how he planned to solve this...   How long was he going to leave me standing there waiting for a pizza they knew nothing about?

I'm just so stunned by the whole thing.

Suffice to say it's still a pizza-free 2019...